Public Participation is not something you just start doing. It is a process, honed over time and aided by experience. As practitioners I think we intuitively know when things are working and areas where we can improve. Despite nearly 15 years in practice, I still seek training annually to make sure I am up to speed or to address areas where I feel I need some help. So I was a bit apprehensive when I began the application process for certification. I know I can do it…but what will my peers think? Pulling back the veil, so to speak, can feel pretty intimidating.
Call to Action: The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is asking for public comment as it is considering an update to its procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This could have a significant impact on the process and quality of P2. We want to make a stand for good P2, why it is important and why we need to fight for it. We are asking you to be a part of “Pursuing the Greater Good” and to advocate for “Good Decisions Made Together” by providing your public comment.
Background: President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law on January 1, 1970. Its passage established a new policy of environmental protection and transparency in government. For any federal action that will have significant environmental impacts, NEPA requires federal agencies to define a range of reasonable courses of action, including a “no action” or baseline alternative, evaluate the likely impacts of each of those alternatives, and share the results of that analysis with the public. While it has never been interpreted as obligating the government to pursue the most environmentally benign action, NEPA made the government’s decisions open to public scrutiny. The law also provided for the formation of the Council on Environmental Quality. Sec. 2 [42 U.S. Code § 4321].
Timing: Given the length of time since its NEPA implementing regulations were issued, CEQ is required to solicit public comment on potential revisions and you have an important voice. No other organization with its members and friends is better poised to contribute and advise on the update of these regulations.
Your voice is important and should be heard. But you only have until August 20th to make a difference!
- Review the announcement
- Draft your reply. Need inspirations? Consider the following:
- IAP2 Foundations – Core Values, Code of Ethics, Spectrum
- Think about how the Foundations have helped you in designing and implementing your projects and helped you in talking about good P2. Share your lessons learned, the benefits of good P2 and what happens without it.
- Take a look at what we heard at our 2017 National Dialogue – Are we facing a P2 Crisis or Opportunity
- Learn from others – Core Values Award winners
- Become an Ambassador – Ambassador Program
- Contribute to the conversation by submitting your comments online
Here is your opportunity to be part of
Pursuing the Greater Good: Good Decisions Made Together.
POSITION: Program Associate, American Planning Association
Where have you worked?
I currently work for the American Planning Association in the Professional Practice department. Most of my job responsibilities involve administration of the AICP Certification programs, exam prep services and anything else related to AICP.
The project that introduced me to P2 is our Community Planning Assistance Team (CPAT) program. CPAT is APA’s pro bono technical assistance program that recruits members with a specific expertise to assist communities that lack planning resources. One major aspect of every CPAT is a community engagement event involving P2. (Read more)
How long have you been in P2? What turned you on to P2 in the first place?
I joined IAP2 USA about three years ago after learning about it when a team leader on a CPAT I coordinated mentioned it. The team leader, Marijoan “MJ” Bull, spoke positively about the organization and demonstrated her P2 expertise during the community meetings. That project opened my eyes to the scope of P2 and the need to learn more so I could increase my contributions as a Project Coordinator during CPATs.
I’m currently serving on the national Training Committee and the Midwest Chapter Board as the secretary. These opportunities have allowed me to use my skills and experience with education programs at APA and allowing me to learn about the process from the volunteer side of association committees. One of my roles at APA is to assist various committees. Having the perspective from both sides has helped me with my own committee facilitation as a staff member.
If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …
There is no need to learn from trial and error during your initial projects. IAP2 USA has a wide range of resources readily available to help you get started with successful P2. Also, the networking events and conferences have proved to be very useful by learning from P2 practitioners about their experiences.
POSITION: Director of Government & Community Relations Maui Electric
I believe that the public deserves a voice, and I also believe that not all governments and companies are ill-intended. There’s so much energy spent on conflict, and we have better things to do, like being with our families, having fun, pursuing personal passions; so participating with so little time and interest can get in the way. I also like that P2 is a good way to guide a process to a good resolution.
Assistant Research Scientist, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?
I started with Morris Communications in Portland, Maine. I was an English major, with a knack for writing, so after I graduated I took this job as my primary role was producing meeting minutes. I was immediately interested in the field and planning and public engagement and my role with MC grew from taking meeting minutes, to being involved in all aspects of the P2 process, as well as the planning activities for the projects we worked on.
I went to graduate school at the University of Texas, Austin, to earn my masters in Urban Planning and when I went to TTI, I found a mix of planning and applied P2. At TTI, we conduct research that improves the state of the practice for P2 by allowing us to test innovative methods in the field. This includes developing and testing performance measures for P2 and incorporating more technology into public involvement processes.
One example was a virtual open house we designed for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), where we used a live chat feature to replicate the experience of an in person public meeting in a virtual setting.
What was the state of P2 when you first arrived in Texas?
When I moved there five years ago, I was curious to see whether the culture of public involvement would be different from the Northeast. The transportation agencies in Central Texas were doing a lot of work, as the region is growing rapidly. The challenge in Central Texas, which I found was not unique to this area, was bringing together the many different interests throughout the region.
Do you have what it takes to become a Certified Public Participation Professional (CP3)?
Knowing and showing that you provide quality P2 is key in today’s marketplace. Certification is your way to do so. If you have taken the IAP2 Foundations course (formerly the Certificate training), have experience delivering good P2, and are ready to have your work assessed by a panel of your professional peers, then it is time to get certified.
The IAP2 Certification Program is a rigorous assessment of your skills and capabilities. Over the past several years, with help from our worldwide membership the IAP2 USA Certification Task Force has developed 5 Core Competencies. These Core Competencies are used to assess whether you have what it takes to be certified as a CP3.
Nominations are now open for several positions on the IAP2 USA Board of Directors. Have you considered submitting? If you haven’t, you definitely should. Why? Because you’ll have the opportunity to:
- work with your peers to advance the practice
- make a real impact on P2 practice in the US
- get involved in issues you care about
- learn what is happening with P2 nationally and internationally
- and perhaps best of all, work with some of the best, brightest, and most fun people in the field.
Every year we get together at the Core Values Awards Gala to celebrate Award Winners from across North America. We celebrate people making waves of change in their communities both great and small, we reflect on how we identify with the Core Values, and perhaps take a moment to refill our souls and remember why we do what we do.
This year we saw a variety of projects from Transportation Infrastructure engagement, to rural dialogue on climate change and the revival of a historically disenfranchised neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, through a first of its’ kind neighborhood Health and Well-Being Center.
By: Andrea Clark, 2017 North American Conference Winner
Two months ago, I did not know IAP2 was a “thing”. I learned about the organization from a transportation planner at my summer internship. She suggested I apply for a scholarship to attend the conference, and because of that conversation I attended my first IAP2 conference last week. I met a wonderful people and learned a lot, but what I really left with was a sense that my skills are valid.
A few weeks before the conference, my professor had each student take the StrengthsFinder assessment. My top five strengths can be categorized as “soft skills”. Although it was no surprise, these skills can be overlooked in a highly quantitative field. Can I list intuition and empathy as skills on my resume? Will anyone hire me because I can read the vibe of a room? As I heard professionals share stories about their work during the conference, I realized how important “soft skills” are to thoughtfully plan and facilitate public participation.
Conference sessions on environmental justice, situational analysis and collaboration emphasized really engaging and listening to people from a place of mutual respect to understand their concerns, needs and interests, particularly people who have been marginalized. Being around a group of professionals who embody these “soft skills” validated my own. I see how my strengths and skills will benefit my future work in equitable and sustainable urban planning and community development. I look forward to developing these skills with IAP2 resources and trainings over the years to come.